Ate it For $8: Taco Joint in Dallas

Here’s a special report from new SideDish contributor, Kristy Alpert.

This one’s for my frugal foodies [winks and points finger at’cha].

I’m starting a new feature called “Ate it for $8.” Every week I’ll scour the city for new places to grab lunch for less than eight bucks. Don’t like the places I pick or have a great idea for an $8 lunch? Send me suggestions; I’d love to hear about where you go for cheap eats!

For my first cheap lunch, I went to Taco Joint in east Dallas. I’m a sucker for good Tex-Mex, and my friends constantly rave about this place — I can’t even begin to say how many you’ve-never-been-there?!’s I’ve heard. Needless to say, my expectations were pretty high for this place before even stepping through the door.

The vibe was right up my alley with vintage records stuck to the ceiling and regulars packed around each table. I heard the tacos were massive, so I kept it to just two this time … and I’ glad I did. I ordered a crispy taco ($1.99) and soft taco ($1.99), and munched on some better-than-average chips and salsa ($1.99) while I waited for my name to be called.

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Although I kept it pretty basic on my first run-in with Taco Joint, they also have some specialty tacos for $2.69, enchiladas for $6.59, burritos starting at $5.49, chalupas starting at $1.99, and tons of combo meals. I’ve already decided the next time I go I’m trying the Sophie taco ($2.59) that comes with sautéed carrots, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and onions topped with cheese and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

My tacos came out with seasoned beef, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes spilling out of their over-sized shells, tempting me to use a fork to tackle them. I resisted, and went at it full-throttle with my head tilted sideways.

I started with the crispy taco, and, while the flavor was classic and delicious, let’s just say it isn’t something I’d recommend eating on a date. The cheese was lightly melted on the freshly cooked meat, but the sheer size of this taco made it incredibly hard to handle. Yet, to be honest, it was worth getting lettuce and beef all over the table, my hands and somehow even on my arms; especially after I topped it off with their homemade jalapeno ranch dressing. Holy. Awesome. Sauce.  I wish I could give a better review of the soft taco I ate next but  I was enamored with the jalapeno ranch sauce and I only remember how great it was to get a soft taco with a fresh, warm tortilla that I dipped in the sauce.

Overall: I left stuffed on two great tacos for a total of $6.46 after tax and including a round of chips and salsa for me and my lunch mate to share. They offer plenty of cheap lunch options, and I probably did one of the cheaper choices. The service was pretty efficient too, with piles of people working behind the open-air counter to get orders out on time. Good prices, great tacos, and cool vibe. But more importantly, I’m glad I can now be the one saying to other people, “You’ve never been there?!”

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